We got our tax returns back from the accountant the other day. Although our family finances aren’t unusually complicated, our federal and state returns for 2016 were 50 pages long. The printouts featured entries about “line 18 of the Unrecaptured Section 1250 Gain Worksheet,” “transactions reported on Form(s) 8949 with Box D checked” and “federal depreciation from Form 2106 (Except QPAs and FBOs).” Now, I went to a decent college and used to be pretty good at math, but I have no idea what any of this means. I also suspect that if I gave the same information to half-a-dozen tax preparers, I’d get half-a-dozen different bottom lines. Like millions of other Americans, I sign tax returns I barely comprehend.Here’s what I do understand, though: A couple of weeks after the returns are filed, I’ll get a bill from the accountant. It will be for about half of my $2,500 federal refund. Call it a complexity tax. Thank you, Congress. In the three decades since the last tax simplification law was enacted, the code has grown like kudzu. Just since 2001, Congress has made more than 5,900 changes to the tax laws, an average of more than one a day. If you download the tax code in Microsoft Word and print it out, you get nearly four million words across 10,928 single-spaced pages, giving rise to the old saw that the tax code is longer than the Bible with none of the good news. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, whose annual report should be required reading on Capitol Hill, people and businesses spent about six billion hours (the equivalent of 3 million full-time jobs) and $195 billion last year on tax compliance. The average person spends 13 hours on Form 1040 alone. The majority of people – 54% at last count – pay someone else to do their taxes; another 40% use tax software.There are so many deductions, credits, exclusions and exemptions that if you got rid of them all, you could cut individual tax rates by nearly 50% and still raise about the same amount of money. The insane complexity of the tax code is one reason that tax reform is more popular than the stalled effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But anyone who thinks it’s going to be easier is delusional.The 1986 Tax Reform Act took two years to make it through Congress, even though it had strong bipartisan backing. Every loophole has its own powerful constituency. Mortgage interest? Realtors and homebuilders. State and local taxes? High-tax states such as New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Charitable deductions? The entire philanthropic community. There’s even a strong lobby for complexity: the tax preparation industry and the makers of tax prep software.Further complicating tax overhaul is that, as with the effort to repeal Obamacare, Republicans can’t even agree among themselves. They are sharply divided on proposals to tax imports and carbon. For those of us who give up our dining room tables for a week each year just to organize receipts and other documents, tax simplification can’t come soon enough. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has predicted that comprehensive reform will pass by this fall. Something tells me that’s not going to happen. In fact, I’ll bet the other half of my federal refund on it.